“Just don't boot it coming out of tight corners, the last guy that did that nearly ended up in a tree”
So goes the only stern faced warning from the owner of this rare Mustang. Fair enough I suppose. With stonking power and a value nearing triple the average salary, it would be wise to heed the advice and keep the right foot from river dancing my way into a grey gum.
This KR version of the already insane Shelby GT500, reclaims the ‘King of the Road' badge as a 40th anniversary tribute 1968 original.
Yes sir, the 500hp from the regular 5.4L supercharged V8 was clearly inadequate, so the engineers at Shelby blueprinted and retuned the engine, taking the total to a monstrous 540. A unique set of chrome alloy wheels, slightly lowered and stiffer suspension, shorter diff ratio and some revised body panels all contribute to making it one of the most exclusive versions of this muscle car icon.
The bespoke sticky rubber developed for the car had better be coated in mammoth swallowing tar if there is hope the prodigious output can be contained. Something tells me the ‘power is nothing without control' mantra was heresy to this cars' developers, choosing instead to just shrug their shoulders muttering, “meh, what are you gonna do?”
Snorting nostrils that form dual scoops on the functional carbon fibre hood initially strike me as grotesque but they quickly become my favourite feature. Twelve year old boys must have been on the design team when adding the lairy details to this car, but right now that childish streak is what is making me grin.
The interior of the car is simple, with supportive but comfortable black leather seats and steering wheel, and a peppering of cobra badges. A shrunken cue-ball on a stubby black lever fits the hand nicely for the six speed manual gearbox, while the back seats are tiny, suitable only for children or steam - room fresh jockeys.
Turning the key results in a well muffled but throaty V8 thrum, whilst remaining devoid of any serious vibration or intent. One thing I do notice is the fuel economy upshift arrow flickering away as I nudge the accelerator while coasting at low revs. Really? Who buys a supercharged V8 thinking about the fuel economy? What is does show is that this car will pull from no revs in any gear, so if you are just cruising to the local honky – tonk there will be more cash in your pocket for beer and ribs.
Between 3000rpm and the 6k redline is where you really feel the surge. Holding the car in second gear at the half-way point on the tacho gives you the feeling of a pit-bull tugging at a heavy chain that is about to snap. Acceleration is staggering, hilarious and completely addictive. Not only is the thrust in the back enormous, the sound of the supercharger whine combines with the quickly rising engine note and everything starts to feel a little bit Millennium Falcon. This is silly fun, like getting off a rollercoaster, staring at your friends and giggling, “Let's do that again!” And so I do.
Flowing corners are not exactly the preferred pasture for this pony which tips the scales at over 1700kg. The ride is firm and jiggly and it exhibits less than assuring amounts of body control. At legal speeds, through even modest bends the initial turn in is met with good feeling though the wheel but also a sudden tip and body roll which loads up the outside rubber. Once there, it holds the line reasonably well, but there is always a bit of wallow and movement which requires more reaction and input. Mid corner bumps are unsettling and the thought of planting the throttle coming out of slower corners is not an option.
Piloting the Shelby just makes you feel like a local bad boy done good, attracting plenty of hooligans to challenge, give a thumbs up out the window or just nod with respect. For once I have street cred and for a moment in time I am enveloped in the muscle-car dream world, stopped at a red light, tempted to drop the driver's window and place my not so ‘fat-arm' on the sill. Then the text message from the beloved bings on my phone, “we need bread, milk and nappies.” And like that, it's gone.